The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday rebutted a media report alleging that to raise money for the US to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16A/B aircraft, the military had to cut NT$50 billion (US$1.69 billion) in arms deals and other weapon procurement programs.
The Chinese-language China Times reported yesterday that the military and the US had negotiated on the upgrades of Taiwan’s 145 F-16A/B jets and the US wanted Taiwan to pay about NT$160 billion in the arms deal, but because the military only planned to spend NT$110 billion on the F-16 upgrade program, it has to find ways to cut NT$50 billion.
The report said the ministry did not require new engines for the F-16s, but the US side suggested the air force procure a new type of engine.
However, the military says the current Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 engine on the jets are used for only about 2,200 hours on average, so it has turned down the US’ suggestion to procure the PW-220E engine.
The report said the upgrade program would equip an Active Electronically Scanned Array system on the jet fighters and the ministry was seeking agreement from the US to transfer its technologies to Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC) in the future and allow the AIDC to do follow-up upgrades.
The report added that the military also proposed reducing the number of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits that the US agreed to sell Taiwan.
In a press statement, the ministry said the military proposed a budget for the jet upgrade program in accordance with the air force’s fighting requirements and the US’ price and availability, adding that the budget was about NT$110 billion.
The ministry added that the F-16A/B upgrade program was a government-to-government arms sale and its negotiations with the US side have proceeded smoothly since the US agreed to the arms package deal in October last year.
It added that the military would continue to seek to cut research fees in the arms sale and seek more industrial cooperation programs as well as technology transfers.